Metaphysics and nominalism

Books about Ockham 1.

Metaphysics and nominalism

Anti-realism Ancient Greek philosophy[ edit ] Plato was perhaps the first [5] writer in Western philosophy to clearly state a non-nominalist position: We customarily hypothesize a single form in connection with each of the many things to which we apply the same name.

For example, there are many beds and tables. But there are only two forms of such furniture, one of the bed and one of the table. Grube What about someone who believes in beautiful things, but doesn't believe in the beautiful itself…?

Don't you think he is living in a dream rather than a wakened state?

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Republic c The Platonic universals corresponding to the names "bed" and "beautiful" were the Form of the Bed and the Form of the Beautiful, or the Bed Itself and the Beautiful Itself.

Platonic Forms were the first universals posited as such in philosophy. Sophistical Refutations xxii, b37, trans. Pickard-Cambridge The first philosophers to explicitly describe nominalist arguments were the Stoicsespecially Chrysippus. Nominalist ideas can be found in the work of Peter Abelard and reached their flowering in William of Ockhamwho was the most influential and thorough nominalist.

Abelard's and Ockham's version of nominalism is sometimes called conceptualismwhich presents itself as a middle way between nominalism and realism, asserting that there is something in common among like individuals, but that it is a concept in the mind, rather than a real entity existing independently of the mind.

Ockham argued that only individuals existed and that universals were only mental ways of referring to sets of individuals. As a general rule, Ockham argued against assuming any entities that were not necessary for explanations.

Accordingly, he wrote, there is no reason to believe that there is an entity called "humanity" that resides inside, say, Socrates, and nothing further is explained by making this claim.

This is in accord with the analytical method that has since come to be called Ockham's razorthe principle that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. Critics argue that conceptualist approaches only answer the psychological question of universals. If resemblances between individuals are asserted, conceptualism becomes moderate realism; if they are denied, it collapses into nominalism.

Metaphysics and nominalism

Price[13] and D. For example, Fluffy and Kitzler are both cats, or, the fact that certain properties are repeatable, such as: One wants to know by virtue of what are Fluffy and Kitzler both cats, and what makes the grass, the shirt, and Kermit green.

The Platonist answer is that all the green things are green in virtue of the existence of a universal; a single abstract thing that, in this case, is a part of all the green things.

Metaphysics and nominalism

With respect to the color of the grass, the shirt and Kermit, one of their parts is identical. In this respect, the three parts are literally one. Greenness is repeatable because there is one thing that manifests itself wherever there are green things.

Nominalism denies the existence of universals. The motivation for this flows from several concerns, the first one being where they might exist. Plato famously held, on one interpretation, that there is a realm of abstract forms or universals apart from the physical world see theory of the forms.

Particular physical objects merely exemplify or instantiate the universal. But this raises the question: Where is this universal realm? One possibility is that it is outside space and time.

A view sympathetic with this possibility holds that, precisely because some form is immanent in several physical objects, it must also transcend each of those physical objects; in this way, the forms are "transcendent" only insofar as they are "immanent" in many physical objects.

In other words, immanence implies transcendence; they are not opposed to one another. Nor, in this view, would there be a separate "world" or "realm" of forms that is distinct from the physical world, thus shirking much of the worry about where to locate a "universal realm". However, naturalists assert that nothing is outside of space and time.

Some Neoplatonistssuch as the pagan philosopher Plotinus and the Christian philosopher Augustineimply anticipating conceptualism that universals are contained within the mind of God. To complicate things, what is the nature of the instantiation or exemplification relation?

Conceptualists hold a position intermediate between nominalism and realismsaying that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality.Nominalism comes in at least two varieties.

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In one of them it is the rejection of abstract objects; in the other it is the rejection of universals. Philosophers have often found it necessary to postulate either abstract objects or universals.

And so Nominalism in one form or another has played a. Nominalism. William of Ockham was a pioneer of nominalism, and some consider him the father of modern epistemology, because of his strongly argued position that only individuals exist, rather than supra-individual universals, essences, William Ockham on Metaphysics.

Metaphysics: Nominalism. One of the most basic challenges in metaphysics is to explain how it is that things are the same despite differences.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus The Philosophy of William of Ockham in the Light of its Principles. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of . Nominalism comes in at least two varieties. In one of them it is the rejection of abstract objects; in the other it is the rejection of universals.

Philosophers have often found it necessary to postulate either abstract objects or universals. And so Nominalism in one form or another has played a. Notes to Nominalism in Metaphysics. 1. There is a third conception of Nominalism, championed by Nelson Goodman, on which it is the doctrine that there is ‘no distinction of entities without distinction of content’, which comes to be the idea that no two distinct entities can be broken down into exactly the same atoms (, –60).

Nominalism and realism are the two most distinguished positions in western metaphysics dealing with the fundamental structure of reality. According to realists, all entities can be grouped into two categories: particulars and universals.

Nominalists instead argue that there are only particulars.

Nominalism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy